MEDIA: nets first editor, the online version of the Sunday broadsheet, has appointed its first editor., the online version of the Sunday broadsheet, has appointed its first editor.

Sunder Katwala takes up the post from 22 January. Katwala said the paper's online identity had to be developed, although it would not become purely a news provider. 'People aren't going to come to The Observer rather than CNN or the BBC if Gordon Brown resigns,' he said.

Although part of Guardian Unlimited, one of the most extensive broadsheet online operations, resembles little more than a pasted version of the week's paper.

But the website would give the paper a chance to comment on issues more than once a week, Katwala insisted. 'The Observer's interventions in events are every seven days,' he said. 'The ability to stay in a story is much more limited.'

He said that the role of star columnists - like Nigella Lawson, Andrew Rawnsley and Nigel Slater - could be expanded through greater interactivity such as online chats.

Recent features covering the Top 100 number one singles would also be ripe for extending online, as would the paper's monthly sports magazine, OSM. 'You can showcase it on the web and add whistles and bells to it,' Katwala said.

Katwala is currently research director at apolitical think-tank Foreign Policy Centre, where he runs the publishing programme. He was formerly a commissioning editor at Macmillan.

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